“Whoa, Nellie!”

Morton Lady Potters 55, Pekin 35

Let’s begin with the terrifying drive through a foggy typhoon trying to be a monsoon to get from Morton to Pekin . . .

Then add Mother Nature drumming her thunderstorm-y fingernails on the roof of Dawdy Hawkins’ gymnasium . . .

Right before the Tornado Watch set off everybody’s iPhone weather buzzers . . .

And did you hear the sirens!!!

Sirens? Sirens mean tornadoes . . .a tornado on December 10?

Checked Clime on my iPhone and it’s freakin’ 61 degrees outside . . .

Mama Nature, it’s DECEMBER, Mama, not JUNE, settle down . . .

And then the Pekin High School athletic director, Barry Gurvey, got on the microphone to say there’d been a , , , ,.


That’s the big one, a notch higher than a Tornado Watch, meaning somebody had put eyes on a tornado . . . .

So after driving like an insane person to weave my way through the I-74 fog-soon/18-wheeler race track and hearing Mama Nature’s nails hammer their scary tune on the roof and hearing SIRENS ! and it’s summer warm in DECEMBER, here came Barry Gurvey lowering his Covid-19 mask to talk into the public address microphone and tell the gathered basketball folks, maybe 500 of us . . .


Or, in his official lingo . . . . .

“It’s not safe,” he said, “to stay in the gym.”

Otherwise, just another night with the undefeated Potters winning by 20 in Pekin. They’re now 8-0, Pekin is 2-7.

It was less than the Potters’ best performance, but hey, winning by 20 is better than waking up somewhere far away and hearing yourself say, “Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Illinois anymore.”

Once freshman Ellie VanMeenen made a 3-pointer to give the Potters an 8-6 lead in the first quarter, they never trailed. Neither, though, could they put Pekin away. They led by three at halftime, by six after three quarters, and were only seven up, 40-33, with 4:20 to play — which is when my iPhone buzzed with TORNADO WARNING.

I saw Pekin AD Gurvey go to Morton’s bench and whisper into coach Bob Becker’s ear that Mother Nature was making a scene.

Play went on for another two minutes, the Potters scoring the next seven points — on a Paige Griffin layup, a Tatym Lamprecht fast break layup off a long Katie Krupa pass, and an Addy Engel 3-pointer. That made it 47-35 with 2:17 left.

Then we were told to leave the gym and go into the school corridors, but not down by the trophy case, an admonition suggesting it wouldn’t be healthy to be impaled by a tornado-propelled trophy.

We stayed in the hallfways 33 minutes before the coast was clear and the game resumed. In the post-tornado period, Morton scored all the points, running the victory margin from 12 to 20.

It was a fun time set off by Tatym Lamprecht. When she missed the second free throw of a one-and-one, she somehow scrambled to get the rebound, put it in and was fouled again. That’s five Lamprecht points in four seconds, which is tornado-fast, though it may not be in good taste right now to crack wise about a tornado. Krupa followed with four free throws, and both sides subbed in the deep-benchers for the last 1:20, giving 15 or 20 girls a story to tell their grandchildren someday about The Night We Played Through a Tornado. (And Becker, the Hall of Famer, can now claim that his team has never been scored on after a tornadic interruption.)

Lamprecht, the Potters’ leading scorer tonight with 19, had asked Becker for extra work this week. “I didn’t think I’d been playing as well as I can,” she said. (A high standard. She’s playing sensationally.) She worked on her shooting — she made three 3’s tonight — and worked on finishing drives with her left hand. I don’t remember her scoring with her left hand tonight, but she did everything else well when Morton’s offense was otherwise slow to get much done. Her last bucket, in fact, grew from great defense. After her second free throw, when Pekin thought to toss the ball in-bounds, Lamprecht simply stepped in front of the would-be receiver and turned the pass into a steal and two.

Trying to make us all comfortable in the hallways, the Pekin AD, Gurvey, announced that he’d open some classrooms if we wanted to sit down.

Someone shouted, “Do we have to study?”

“Yes,” he said, smiling, “and there’ll be a test.”

Lamprecht’s 19 was followed by Krupa’s 14. Paige Griffin and Maggie Hobson each had 7, Engel 5, and VanMeenen 3.

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